Cities such as Baltimore say the low interest rates underpaid the city on investments, added to budget deficits, and forced the closure of schools, fire stations and recreation centers. Baltimore has filed a class lawsuit against the banks, and more cities and states may join in. In August, the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut subpoenaed seven banks – Barclays, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, and UBS, according to news reports. Their area of inquiry: Whether interest-rate manipulation had affected bond rates issued by city and county governments, which are based on Libor rates.
It’s not just cities that have been hit. A coalition of urban transit advocacy groups has issued a report estimating that Libor manipulation cost San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit and a dozen other large transit systems some $92.6 million in lower payments.